How is Amazon using data to rank its most popular books?

Answer: by tracking what’s actually being read

by / May 19, 2017
Screenshot via Amazon.com/charts

Books are typically tracked by how many copies they have sold, but how many times have you bought a book with the best intentions of reading it, but never actually got around to cracking the cover? Amazon’s new ranking system won’t count that toward a book’s popularity.

Launched May 18, Amazon Charts is a new weekly list of not only the top 20 best-selling books on the site, but also the top 20 most read titles. The most sold list is more traditional: It ranks titles based on number of copies sold and pre-ordered through all of Amazon’s many channels. But the most read chart is different. It harnesses the massive amount of data the company has accrued from its digital and audio platforms, and ranks books by their average number of daily Kindle readers and Audible.com listeners. The company is also using that data to show how quickly a book is being read, and noting those that are “unputdownable.”

Amazon hopes that by purely using data — rather than editorial considerations from publishers or other readers, which contribute to more traditional bestseller tracking — customers will get a better picture of what is truly a good read and not just marketing hype.